Chapter 3 – Smells Like Teen Spirit

The Friday after Thanksgiving, 1991…

Kimberly McComb invited most of the girls from the 9th grade basketball team to my surprise birthday party. This was the night when Shannon Winter, Carrie Ross and I became good friends.

I would have to say the most memorable event of the party was our trip down to the Jones’s house. Well, actually our three trips to the Jones’s house. The first time we used the excuse that we wanted to know what we got on the chapter four algebra test, since Mr. Jones was our math teacher.  Only about five or six of us from the party actually went. When his son, Kevin, who was two years ahead of us, opened the door, I guess you could say he was a little surprised. We all giggled and asked if Mr. Jones was there, so Kevin invited us in.

The Jones’s live in Lisa Fink’s old house, but when I walked in, I could hardly recognize it. They redid everything.

We stood and talked for a couple of minutes and left. We came back a second time to tell Kevin’s friend and basketball teammate, Dave Farley, that Kimberly was kidding when she said Rebecca Richards liked him during our first trip. We came back a third time and gave Mr. Jones, his son, Kevin, and Kevin’s two friends, Dave and Justin, the remainder of my birthday cookie cake. What we neglected to tell them was that we accidentally dropped it in the entrance of Kimberly’s house on the way over.

While Mr. Jones, his son, Kevin Jones, and Kevin’s friends (and varsity basketball teammates) Dave Farley and Justin James ate my cake, the five of us bit our lips and exchanged glasses.

That Monday, after basketball practice, Mr. Jones called me over and said, “Rumor has it, Jen Black, that you dropped the cake before you gave it to me.”

I took a step back and said, “I didn’t drop it, Kimberly McComb did.”

Chapter 3 – 9th Grade – More Than Words


Two Fridays ago, Kimberly McComb threw me a surprise birthday party. Supposedly, I was just coming over to spend the night so we could catch up on old times. Ha, ha, little did I know!

I walked down into the basement. All of the lights were out except for the one in the office. Suddenly, Kimberly jumped from behind the office door with a telephone in her hands. She was obviously very excited as she held the phone out to me saying, “It’s for you, it’s for you! It’s a boy!”

I walked down the steps wondering what the heck was going on. As soon as I got to the bottom, a big group of people jumped from behind the couch, and screamed, “Surprise!”

It took a couple of seconds for it to register. 

Adult Journal – Why Everyone Should Run (at least one) Marathon

sonyOne of my great passions in life is running. I have been running since seventh grade. I vividly remember running with my bright yellow walkman in hand, listening to my favorite Janet Jackson Rythmn Nation tape during the autumn of 1989. The music was so electrifying, it made me run at a faster clip. I used to race along the sidewalks of Medina, Ohio, past all of my friends houses’. To this day, running relaxes and soothes me. Instead of listening to Janet Jackson, now I listen to Beyonce. However, with my busy life, I will not get up to run every morning unless I am training for a marathon. Running a marathon is not as hard as you think. According to the September 2014 issue of Runners’ World Magazine, fitness should sneak up on you gradually. Push too hard, too soon, and you’ll end up injured and discouraged. But if you can stack up week after week of consistent training, you will see your fitness level go to places that you may never have thought possible. To make sure I run as consistently as possible to reap all of the benefits, I am currently training for my fifth marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon.  The three reasons why everyone should try to run at least one marathon are it helps you live longer, it prevents heart disease, and it makes you a happier person. Read More

Chapter 3 – 9th Grade – Where Does My Heart Beat Now?



I just got back from Seth Clouse’s party. Oh my gosh! I had the best time. Just when I thought I had absolutely no chance with Eric Bass and almost started to get over him, he speaks to me. Now, I think I’m madly in love with him again. I know he likes Lisa Fink and I know he’s just a flirt, but still, there’s always that off chance…Nah, maybe not. But guess what? Jeremy Wilson asked me to slow dance the last two songs. Even though I don’t like him, I was really flattered! He’s a nice guy.

My mom and me

Adult Journal – My Ukrainian Heritage

My mom and me

My mom and me, Medina, Ohio, 1980.

In 2014, Ukraine is in the news almost everyday. Will they be able to remain free and independent from Russia, or will Russia take away their sovereignty? Admittedly, I normally do not follow foreign affairs very carefully. A future as the Secretary of State? That’s not me. However, recently, I find myself voraciously reading, saving on my iPad, and re-reading every New York Times article about the protests in Ukraine, and the subsequent struggle over control of Crimea. I feel a connection with these events because my mom is a Ukrainian immigrant. I heard her immigration story so many times growing up, I took it for granted. But now, I am beginning to think about her story again in a brand new light. I find myself asking questions such as, “Did her family leave Ukraine for the same reasons there is political unrest today? How did her family immigrate legally to the U.S.? And how and when did she become a U.S. citizen?” Read More

Chapter 3 – 9th Grade – Emotions


Oh, guess what I found out in choir? Shannon Winter and James Needham are going out!

I was in shock for the rest of the day. I was supposed to go to the Bees game that night but the, uh, shall we say, “new couple” kind of discouraged me.

I went to the game anyway, and when I saw them “keeping each other warm,” instead of puking, I went over and said “hi” to them to show James I could care less.

Plus, I had someone else on my mind. You guessed it: Eric Bass.

When I saw him, he was surrounded by a swarm of girls. That upset me a little at first, but towards the end of the game, I gathered up enough courage, and joined the group of “Eric worshippers.”

He actually spoke to me!!! He actually stood next to me. 

At one point, I said something that he didn’t hear, and he had to lean in closer to me for me to repeat it to him. I had to really concentrate on not hyperventilating.

I was on cloud nine for the rest of the night. I really wish I wasn’t so hung up on him, though. About ten other girls like him– my chances don’t look too good.